A maquiladora (or maquila) is a factory, the majority of which are located in Mexican border towns, that imports materials and equipment on a duty- and tariff-free basis for assembly or manufacturing. The main use of these assembly plants were to put together imported parts. These companies must work under the Maquila Decree, requiring all products to be exported from Mexico. Maquiladoras can be 100% foreign-owned (usually by U.S. companies). Using maquiladoras is an example of transnational operations.
The establishment of Maquila Decree was largely due to the end of the U.S. Bracero Program, which allowed Mexican immigrants to find temporary agricultural work in the United States. The end of the Bracero Program increased the unemployment rate in the border region. Mexican officials created the Maquila Decree in order to alleviate this problem.
There are thousands of maquiladoras located along the U.S./Mexico border in towns and cities like Ciudad Juárez, which has recently become notorious for the serial murders of young female maquiladora workers. Other health and environmental problems have arisen from their presence. Several organizations are concerned with the working conditions in the maquiladoras, one of which is the Maquila Solidarity Network (MSN). This organization is a Canadian network that promotes solidarity with groups around the world that organize in maquiladora factories and export processing zones. Their goals are to improve working conditions and win a living wage for the workers.
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